Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good.  Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.  (Titus 2:3-5, NIV)

So, men are supposed to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, sound in faith, sound in love, and sound in endurance.  As for women, Paul instructs them to be reverant and to teach what is good.  He also warns them to stay away from slandering (probably implying gossiping) and drinking too much.  It seems to me that Paul expects older women to be first-rate teachers and that the path to becoming a first-rate teacher is to love, be pure, be busy, be kind, and be subject to their husbands.  So, what does all that mean?  I’m not a woman, but I don’t think that necessarily precludes me from weighing in on the matter.  After all, God designated Eve to be Adam’s helper.  It seems only fair that because we (men) need help that we should be able to comment on the helper and her role.

Love their husbands and children

This is easier said than done.  I realize that most men, even if they are mostly lovable, are at times downright impossible to love.  I wish that I could say I’ve broken the mold, but I’m afraid I haven’t and I know I have my share of moments that might classify my lovability around a 1.2 on a scale of 10.  Seriously, it isn’t always easy to love your mate and your children.  Is the list that follows “love their husbands and children” a how-to of loving?

Be Self-Controlled and Pure

As a teacher I’ve noticed that the behavior that has the greatest impact on a child’s ability to learn is the ability to be self-controlled.  With it, any child, no matter what the talent for learning, has the ability to be successful.  Without it, no child is capable of successful learning.  In the general sense, self-control implies doing things that are right at a time when you’re inclined to do things that are wrong (or at least not right).  How it applies more specifically to women, I haven’t really thought through.  Certainly, it would mean refraining from sexual activity prior to marriage (or outside of marriage once there).  This fits with the additional exhortation to be pure.  I imagine that it would apply to gossiping, as well.  I’m sure that exercising self-control may take a different shape for different people.  For those of us prone to being angry, one special area of focus for being self-controlled would be during our moments of anger.

Be Busy

One of the characteristics of my wife that I have valued more than anything is her busyness.  She isn’t a workaholic, but neither is she a sloth (which I am prone to be if not on guard).  It seems right for a woman to keep herself busy.  I say, “it seems” because I am not going to pretend to be an expert in psychology.  In my casual observation of women in their marriages and families is that those that keep busy tend to provide a stable environment for raising a family.  Things are in order, relationships both near and far are taken care of, and children learn from watching her work.

Be Kind

It’s easy to be bitter.  Bitterness can creep in with just about anything.  I clean and no one appreciates it.  I cook and no one says thank you.  I wrote her a note and she hasn’t written back.  I’m not sure that we’re inclined to be kind as humans.  In fact, I think that no matter how well we learned as children to be kind, I think it’s something that we need to constantly work on.  Is more unique to women than men?  I don’t know, but I think that our culture massively underestimates the influence that women play in their families.  If a mother allows herself to be bitter, or hold a grudge, it begins to affect everyone and everything in the home.  The same is true for men, but men seem to have an easier time compartmentalizing their lives so as not to have an immediate impact on the family (this could be why men are prone to starting affairs because they are able to “shut off” the relationships that they have and focus on who they are with at that moment).  When mom has something bothering her, it almost immediately plays itself out in the family dynamics. 

Be subject to one’s husband

Ahhh…here’s the hard one.  What do I say that won’t come back to bite me?  I don’t know, but I know that this is an important truth and it ought to be discussed.  But in today’s culture it tends to be a very flammable topic.  We all have to be subject to some one.  Ultimately, that some one is God.  The family unit is God’s design for a microcosm of His kingdom.  The family is run by one person, the husband.  The family is subject to one person, the husband.  The husband, in turn, must answer directly to God.  A responsibility that I’m sure many men have tried to shirk.  I know that I am intimidated by that responsibility.  I also know that when my wife “subjects” herself to me (usually in the form of encouragement) it make a huge difference in my attitude about my role and I am able to fulfill my responsibilites and I feel confident at the same time.

…so that no one will malign the word of God.

It all comes back to God.  If men and women function properly in the behavior and their relationships with one another, God will be glorified.  I imagine that God will also bless the relationships of men and women who seek to do His will by obeying Paul’s commands in addition to God’s commands throughout the Bible (should Bible be capitalized?).  Maligning God’s word is a passtime of many in our culture and believers could be perfect in their behavior and still not change that attitude.  But as much as we are able, it is fitting and right to obey God through His word that we might live a life that is pleasing to Him and glorifies His holy name.

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